Critique Blog Hop Week 2: My First 250

I’m jumping into Jennifer Eaton’s Sunday Snippets Critique Blog Hop this week with my first 250 words of my work in progress! All critiques, reviews, reader reactions, etc. are MORE THAN WELCOME!

To find out more about the Critique Blog Hop, click here.

The following is a 250-ish word excerpt from my current novel in progress, On The Surface. I’ve written about it here before, but this is the first ever publicly available piece of writing from this particular work. Enjoy!

“I always get confused by the turns in here.”

No one responded. Her mother made this remark nearly every time they visited the cemetery together like this. It really wasn’t that confusing, Liza thought. After all, she figured she could walk to the gravesite from the cemetery gates with her eyes closed, but her family would never believe it.

“Ah, here we go,” she said, easing the car to a stop in front of a large, ancient-seeming oak tree. Liza could see around the tree the rows of little American flags stuck in the ground, flapping in the wind.

Her mother turned around from the driver’s seat, and Liza knew exactly what she was going to say, but she refrained from answering before her mother asked. Liza knew it hurt her feelings when she responded so quickly, and Liza was no longer in the business of hurting her mother’s feelings on purpose. After all, she wasn’t a teenager anymore. She was almost finished with her sophomore year of college, and while she hadn’t gone away to school like most of her friends, she was still way more mature than she had been at 16.

“Liza, you coming with us this time?” It was a request she’d heard countless times, sometimes with a slight variation, but the meaning always the same.

Liza paused, taking a moment to twirl a coil of chestnut-brown hair between her fingers, as if she were really considering it, even if for no one else’s sake but her mother’s.

After a moment, she answered. “No thanks, Mom. You guys go ahead, I’ll wait here.” She glanced out the window so she wouldn’t have to see her mother’s reaction.

To check out other writers’ 250 words, check out these sites and look for their “Sunday Snippets Critique Blog Hop” links!

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://wyrmflight.wordpress.com/

http://www.mandyevebarnett.com

http://womanbitesdog.wordpress.com/

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com

http://threepiecebikini.blogspot.com/

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

http://writerscrash.blogspot.co.uk/

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19 thoughts on “Critique Blog Hop Week 2: My First 250

  1. Hi Katrina.

    I like it. It shows the friction between mother and daughter and their differing feelings about needing to visit the grave. Good restrained conflict.
    I’m not sure what I can offer to improve this. What I’d like to know mostly is who else is in the car with Liza and her mother but that might be revealed outside these 250 words. Why did we knot hear/see anything from them, even in this part?
    And obviously I’d like to know who’s grave they are visiting but somehow not as much as who else is in the car, maybe because the grave is somehow more private. I don’t know. My top two guesses from the feel are 1) an older brother of Liza who died in a war or perhaps her father. But again, possibly revealed outside the 250.
    A good read, this will be, I think. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for critiquing! You’re right, the majority of those questions are answered in the next paragraph or two. It sounds so disjointed just by itself here, but I’m so glad it’s at least a decent opening! Thank you!

  2. Wow. This is really great. Just two very minor suggestions…

    Liza could see around the tree the rows of little American flags stuck in the ground, flapping in the wind.

    You don’t need to say “she could see” just describe what she sees instead. Since we are in her POV, we know it is her seeing it. This is very subtle tell, and removing it will help the reader to engage.

    My second suggestion is to add just a slight hint at emotion near the end. Let us know how she feels that the question is going to be asked again.

    Good luck!

  3. Excellent voice! I can really feel the tension, and the weariness of the narrator. She’s been here before, and she’s not enjoying the process. There are a few areas to trim, perhaps, like the “ancient-seeming oak tree.” She’s seeing it, she thinks it’s ancient. That’s good enough for me without the word “seeming.”
    You also have a little pronoun confusion with “Liza knew it hurt her feelings when she responded so quickly.”
    Looking forward to more!

    • Thanks for the comments! I’m glad the emotions of my MC are pretty clear. Some have said before that she just sounds whiny, so I’ve really been working on that! You’re right, the language can use some trimming down. Good thing I like rewriting! Thanks for reading and critiquing!

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